A growing group of Facebook advertisers is pulling their ads from the social media giant, some for the month of July and some for longer periods. The advertisers are joining the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, led by activist groups such as the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Color Of Change.
The coalition wants Facebook to “effectively address online hate,” to fully protect users, and to “address the rampant disinformation and violent consumers on its platform.”
After two years of meeting with Facebook and making demands, activists are unhappy with the company’s response. Now, they’re enlisting advertisers to pressure the company to accede to demands.
“Facebook vs. Hate,” a report from the campaign, explains that a concerted effort to change Facebook’s community standards and terms of service began in October 2018. At that time, a coalition of more than 50 “racial-justice and civil-rights groups” launched Change the Terms. In addition to the groups listed above, leading members includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, Muslim Advocates and the Center for American Progress.
The report says, “White supremacists and related organizations are using platforms like Facebook to coordinate both online and offline attacks against women, people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, LGBTQIA people, and people with disabilities.”
Stop Hate for Profit has 10 demands for Facebook, including:
- Establish and empower permanent civil rights infrastructureincluding [a] C-suite level executive with civil rights expertise to evaluate products and policies for discrimination, bias, and hate.
- Submit to regular, third party, independent auditsof identity-based hate and misinformation with summary results published on a publicly accessible website.
- Find and remove public and private groupsfocused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism.
- Ensure accuracy in political and voting mattersby eliminating the politician exemption; removing misinformation related to voting, and prohibiting calls to violence by politicians in any format. (Their emphasis.)
The organizations have had in-person and phone meetings with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, including one in June where, according to an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, he “promised further controls, including flagging posts by politicians.”
The Journal’s editorial board opposes the assault on free speech from “woke” businesses. The op-ed explains: “Facebook already takes down content promoting violence and has a broad definition of impermissible hate speech. Yet the coalition of left-wing groups urging the corporate boycott, ‘Stop Hate for Profit,’ wants a progressive power-grab. It demands that Facebook ‘empower permanent civil rights infrastructure’ to search for speech it deems biased.”
The editorial concludes with a warning: “But the boycott nonetheless reflects a new and worrying effort to leverage corporate power against America’s open public square. Woke Fortune 500 firms had better hope that they will make fast and permanent friends among the anticapitalists of the new left because they are fast burning through reservoirs of goodwill among American conservatives.”
Free Press is another group involved in the campaign. Its goal is “to change the media to transform democracy to realize a just society.”
In a website section labeled “Free & Open Internet,” the organization writes, “For years the company has failed to adequately curb the spread of hate and dangerous disinformation on its platform. These issues have only intensified with the coronavirus pandemic and the uprisings for Black lives. People are dying, lives are being threatened and it seems like the corporate world may finally be done with Facebook’s excuses.” (Their emphasis.)
Free Press says, “So far, more than 1,000 advertisers — including Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Ford, Honda, Levi Strauss, North Face, Patagonia, PepsiCo, Reebok, Starbucks, Target, Unilever and Verizon — have signed on to the boycott.” (Their emphasis, again.)
While some large companies have joined the advertising boycott, most are smaller businesses, schools and organizations. The Journal reported that Facebook had 8 million advertisers on its main platform in April.
The move to increase controls on social media goes well beyond Facebook. The activist groups state, “The goals of the campaign are to crack down on hateful activities across online platforms and to ensure that the policies are enforced in a transparent, equitable and culturally relevant way.”
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